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Not just balloons. Helium shortage may deflate MRIs, airbags and research

Helium shortage

A global helium shortage could burst the bubble for all the businesses that rely on the gas to lift weather balloons, large blimps, and, yes, the balloons at your kid’s birthday bash that make your voice sound like a chipmunk.

But the shortage is potentially deflating for a whole range of other purposes.

Helium is used in deep sea diving, airbags, cryogenics, rocket fuel, MRI machines and in areas of tech that include fiber optics and semiconductors.

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Celebrate Earth Day With The Greatest Images Of Our Planet From Space

Photos from outer space at Forbes

The Earth remains humanity's only home in all the Universe, and the only planet that we know of capable of supporting human beings. Today, Earth Day, it's more important than ever to appreciate it.

With the advent of rocketry and spaceflight, our cosmic perspective changed forever.

More of Forbes' wonderful display....

Jerrie Cobb, member of NASA's secret 'Mercury 13', dies at 88

Jerrie Cobb dies at 88Jerrie Cobb, the first woman in the world to complete U.S. astronaut training in the early 1960s, has died at the age of 88, her family said.

Cobb -- a record-setting pilot before she joined NASA for an astronaut training program with 12 other women, dubbed the "Mercury 13" -- died March 18, but it wasn't announced by a family spokesman until Thursday.

NASA ultimately ended the First Lady Astronaut Training program, choosing instead to send only men into space. Cobb remained an advocate for female pilots and astronauts to the point she once argued for opportunities for women in space program with famed astronaut John Glenn during a 1962 Senate committee hearing. Glenn said at the time, "the fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order."

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'We've now seen the unseeable' First-ever photo of a black hole revealed

black hole photo

It's our first glimpse of one of the weirdest spectacles in the universe. Astronomers on Wednesday released humanity's first-ever image of a black hole.

The picture reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the "nearby" Virgo galaxy cluster. It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole," said Sheperd Doeleman, Event Project Horizon project director from Harvard University. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”

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Trump picks climate change skeptic for EPA science board

Trump picks climate change skeptic for EPA science board

A well-known skeptic of the seriousness of climate change will join the Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisory board. Alabama climatologist John Christy has been a favorite of Republican lawmakers who disagree with the science that shows humans are heating the planet and causing an environmental crisis.

Christy was a lead author of a section of a 2011 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But that year he testified to a House panel that “it has become popular to try and attribute certain extreme events to human causation.”

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New Horizons has a successful flyby of the Kuiper Belt’s bowling pin

New Horizons has a successful flyby

While people around the world were celebrating the arrival of 2019, people at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland were hard at work. Billions of miles away, the New Horizons probe was flying past Ultima Thule, a small object in the Kuiper Belt. By Tuesday morning, the hardware had sent back a status report that indicated the flyby went as planned, and New Horizons now has lots of data from Ultima Thule that it will slowly send back to Earth over the coming months.

While we don't yet have any of the data that will tell us details about this relic of the Solar System's formation, images taken during the approach solved one of the mysteries that had arisen as New Horizons closed in. But one of the key questions—is Ultima Thule one object or two?—remains unanswered.

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Astronaut, cosmonaut safely return after ejecting from failed space launch

NASA: ISS crew ejects from failed launchAn American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut were forced to eject from an aborted launch to the International Space Station early Thursday and make an emergency landing.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were aboard the spacecraft when it launched at 4:40 a.m. EDT on a mission to the station. The duo blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.

Moments after launch, the two were forced to eject from the spacecraft after they encountered trouble with a booster on the rocket.

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